As Triumph descended into British Leyland Hell in the late 1960s, its product development became convoluted to say the least. One result was the oddly named Triumph Stag, a 2+2 V8-powered somewhat open-topped grand tourer envisioned to compete with the Mercedes SL. Road Test Magazine drove the car in England and offered a report in the April 1971 issue, giving a preview of a rather strange car that would soon arrive on U.S. shores.
Talk about cheesy: styling wheel covers with a five-lug pattern when the real wheel underneath sported a mere four-lugs. The worst kind of fake, and likely did the car no favors with automotive aficionados.
Too big and heavy for a sports car, too slow for an exotic, not posh enough for a luxury grand tourer, the Stag was hard for Road Test to pigeonhole. Adding to the awkwardness was the top structure, which presumed roll-over regulations that weren’t actually in place and resulted in a less-than-open environment. Not that they didn’t like it in many ways–the car did have its charms. But the Stag’s mission was muddled, and Road Test’s confusion was understandable–and an accurate pre-read on the tepid U.S. market acceptance. And that was before the horrific reliability issues became apparent…